An unscientific survey about thanks Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

We've all seen the challenge on Facebook. In some form we're asked, or challenged, as some say, to share with our Facebook friends a list of things we're thankful for. If your friends are like mine, it probably feels as if everyone is thankful for the same things.

That's more than a feeling. A bunch of people who work for Facebook analyzed the responses, or lists of what people are thankful for, throughout the country. They stripped personal information and then looked for areas of common ground. They discovered similarities but also noticed differences in responses by Facebook users living in different states in the United States.

Maine is different from Florida. One state has four seasons, the other just one. Despite these noticeable differences in climate, Facebook users in both states -- along with Rhode Island and New Jersey -- said they are most thankful to live near the beach.

The poll shows similarities dealing with faith, even among those of different beliefs. Those from Utah and Idaho, many of them Mormon, said they are grateful for the heavenly Father, matching them closely with those from states in the South, typically Southern Baptists, who said they are thankful for mercy, salvation, and God's love.

In some states, Facebook users say they are most thankful for the Internet itself. After all, what would life be like without the great love for Google expressed by Nebraska, the fondness for YouTube shared by those from Virginia, Delaware, and California, and the joy for binge-watching Netflix that can be found in New Hampshire?

Facebook users in Louisiana and Hawaii are separated by land and ocean, yet both express great gratitude for rainbows.

So, what does all of this mean and is it scientific? Perhaps it's not scientific, but for me, the message is profound. At a time when differences of opinion send people to the streets in protest, it's nice to see that deep down what unites us continues to be much more than what divides us.

No matter where we live or what we believe in politically, regardless of our wealth or lack of it, we share the ability to give thanks for something, profound or simple.

Universally among Facebook users, analysts discovered that we're thankful for our friends, family, and health. We're grateful to have jobs and to have the love of family. We're united in appreciation for a roof over our heads and we're thankful for something as basic as life.

We are more connected than before, making our differences more obvious and our desire for conformity more intense. We instantly share heated opinions with thousands who have the ability to immediately respond with an alternate point of view expressed with similar passion.

When faced with the challenge of compassion and forgiveness, we should look for inspiration in areas, such as those expressed through Facebook, that unite us in gratitude.


Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.

 
 

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